Branded vs Unbranded Content Marketing Strategies
Content can be a great way to establish your brand’s identity, generate visibility, and even earn loyalty from your target audience—if you know what content your audience is looking for. If you want your content marketing strategies to be successful, you need to understand the differences between branded and unbranded content… and when to use them.
What is the Difference Between Branded and Unbranded Content?
The difference between the two boils down to whether or not the content is specifically about your brand.
As the name suggests, branded content is about your brand, which is your company and its values. This content typically feels more promotional in tone. For example, branded content would include promotional videos for an upcoming company event.
By contrast, unbranded content does not focus on your company, but rather about your industry at large. This kind of content could include articles on market trends or speculation about a new product release from another company.
When to Use Branded vs Unbranded Content
Both types of content serve a purpose. To use both effectively, you need to understand when to use them and what they can help your company achieve.
Branded content helps:
- create your brand image,
- can generate brand awareness and visibility, and
- may even inspire brand loyalty if your content is of high enough quality.
Here, authenticity is key; according to Stackla’s Consumer Content Report, 86% of people surveyed said that authenticity was important when deciding what brands they support. What counts as authentic? According to that same report, people prefer “real and organic” to “perfect and packaged” content. People surveyed also said they found user-generated content to be more authentic than other varieties.
As such, discovering your audience’s key values and appealing to them in a way that feels real and conversational may be the best way to come across as authentic.
The Dove Real Beauty campaigns are classic examples of branded content marketing that feel authentic. These campaigns revolve around the concepts of self-esteem and tackling beauty bias, and include both empowering brand-generated videos and inspirational user-generated content like testimonials. This combination helps paint Dove as a sincere, authentic brand that cares about its customer base and is in active conversation with them. That perception can generate brand loyalty, and sales numbers reflect that: in the 10 years since Dove launched these campaigns, sales went from $2.5 billion to $4 billion.
That is the purpose of branded content: to generate visibility and loyalty.
Just remember that it is important not to flood your audience with branded content, as too much of it feels forced and inauthentic, which may turn audiences off your brand. Instead, use branded content at strategic times, and consider incorporating user-generated content into your branded marketing strategies.
Unbranded content offers valuable information or even entertainment to readers.
Crafting authoritative content like consumer reports can establish your company as a trustworthy industry resource. This trustworthiness will lead to people choosing your company time after time when they need market insights. Or, if you keep offering entertaining content like funny or heart-warming industry-related videos, users may see your company as fun, approachable, and authentic—all of which may help establish brand loyalty and trustworthiness.
All in all, unbranded content can also generate brand authority and loyalty, albeit in a much more indirect way than branded content does. It’s a great way to connect with your audience without flooding them with branded marketing content, which can help you appear more authentic.
The best content marketing strategies understand that authenticity and trustworthiness are key to inspiring brand loyalty. When you craft content, ask yourself:
- Does the content feel sincere?
- Is the content helpful or entertaining?
- Would my audience connect with this content?
Answering these questions can guide how you shape your content marketing strategies, and may just earn your brand some loyal followers in the end.